Can I avoid having another colonoscopy by using the fecal occult blood testing method?

This question was asked in Cathedral City, California on 05/31/2012.
I had a colonoscopy ten years ago at the age of 65. There were no polyps. I am now 75 and due for another colonoscopy. Recently I received a kit for a fecal occult blood test and sent it in for evaluation. If this test is done annually, is it sufficient information to rely on, in order to not have another colonoscopy, since I do not like to go through the preparation for it and, if there is no additional risk in avoiding it. Thank you for your answer!

Doctors Answers (2)

Harsha Vittal, M.D.
Answered on: 6/1/2012 1

Testing for occult blood in the stool is a screening test but not nearly as accurate as a colonoscopy. If you have another normal colonoscopy at 75, then according to the guidelines, you would not need another colonoscopy.

David Pound, M.D.
Answered on: 6/1/2012 1

Fecal occult blood tests are not a replacement for colonoscopy. The need for colonoscopy is related to the previous findings on colonoscopy. If you have had polyps in the past a colonoscopy is usually recommended.